Category Archives: SLR

Nikon F (1959 – 1973) and FTn Viewfinder

Up to this point, I’ve only ever used one other Nikon film camera, the Nikon EM. After spending a few weeks talking with friends, I decided it was time to get a proper Nikon SLR. Something a little older. A classic Nikon. That’s when I learned that I really didn’t know a lot about Nikon SLR’s. My friend Maurice Greeson suggested I start with the Nikon F. Before I continue, I’m sure a seasoned Nikonian will correct me if I describe something inaccurately. Please do, no offense taken.

Maurice gave me a Nikon FTn viewfinder/exposure meter with a 50mm Nikkor-S f/1.4 lens. All I had to do was find a Nikon F body, which isn’t hard to do. What is slightly hard to do is find one on eBay in acceptable condition. As I was searching, I’d send Maurice an email and ask, “What about this one? Or, this one? This one?” What I didn’t understand is the F was originally sold with a standard prism viewfinder. The eye-level penta-prism can be interchanged with a waist-level viewfinder, as well as the FTn. The FTn is essentially a viewfinder with a built-in light meter. When changing the lens on the camera, the meter coupling pins must be indexed with the lens. To summarize, the FTn needs to know what aperture values are available on the lens you are mounting. This was something entirely new to me, but it makes sense.

The Nikon F was manufactured from March 1959 to October 1973. The F was known in the 1960’s as the camera used by photo journalists, capturing images from Vietnam, the US exploration of Mt. Everest, and the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs. There were eight types of viewfinder screens available, as well as interchangeable high capacity backs and motor drives. Originally priced at $186 USD (camera and 50mm f/2 lens), that’s about $498 today, the camera attracted both professional and amateur photographers.

According to the serial number on my Nikon F, it was produced between April – July 1970. This camera is a tank! According to kenrockwell.com, the camera and FTn viewfinder alone weigh 1.92 lbs. When you add the lens, it’s easily over 2 pounds. If I were a photojournalist in Vietnam and found myself in a dangerous situation, I think I would have used this camera as a weapon.

The FTn viewfinder and photographic screen both have 100% coverage, giving the photographer a bright viewing area. The camera has a split-image focal screen and a titanium foil focal-plane shutter. The FTn has an ASA range from 6 to 6400, shutter speeds are 1 sec – 1/1000th sec and bulb.

The Nikon F is a classic camera. This camera set the bar for SLR cameras and showed the world that Nikon, and Japanese camera manufactures, were capable of producing exceptional photographic equipment. Special thanks to Maurice Greeson for donating the FTn, lens, and book Nikon F Handbook of Photography (1971 Edition) by Joseph D. Cooper and Joseph C. Abbott.

Camera: Nikon F (with FTn Viewfinder) (1959 – 1984)
Film: Kodak BW400CN
Process: RepliColor SLC
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo

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Miranda G – Part Two

It’s rare that I get a camera, quickly shoot a roll a film, enjoy the camera so much that I immediately move to another roll of film. Again, the Miranda G is such a great camera. Don’t believe me, go read my post from last week. The second roll of film I shot with was some Film Photography Project Edu 200 Black & White. At $3.99, you can’t beat the price. The only drawback is it’s a thin plastic and can be difficult to scan.

The Annual VW “No Show” in Kaysville, Utah, is one of my favorite car shows. Not because I own a Volkswagen, or know much about cars. It’s the people at the show and the variety of photographic opportunities. The car owners are great to talk with. They love to share their knowledge about VW’s, often pointing out specific details of a particular year or model. The show usually consists of about 100+ cars. And it only takes a few hours to see everything and visit with people. Brian Thomson and his fellow VooDoo Kruizerz do an awesome job at hosting a fun show each year. Below are some photos from the VW show, make sure to click on the images and view the whole gallery. And if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see some cars from another show.


Miranda G – Part 1

The Orion Camera Company in Japan, later renamed for marketing reasons to the Miranda Camera Company, primarily made SLR cameras between 1955 and 1978. Two unique items that made Miranda different from their competitors were: 1) almost every camera had an interchangeable pentaprism that could easily be changed by the photographer, 2) they never made their own lenses, relying on other manufacturers to produce them. Miranda was the first Japanese company to manufacture an SLR with a removable eye level prism, something that Nikon adapted in 1959 (Nikon F). According to the Miranda Historical Society online, it’s not uncommon to find a seller who has any of knowledge about Miranda cameras or lenses.

The Miranda G was manufactured and sold in 1965. It features an interchangeable pentaprism and focus screen. The interchangeable focus screen were made in 8 types and attracted photographers who were interested in photomicrography (photos taken through a microscope) to astronomical photography (photos taken with a telescope). The camera has shutter speeds of 1 through 1/1000 sec, and bulb mode. The standard lens that this model came with was a Soligor 50mm f/1.9. The Miranda G does not have an internal light meter.

Special thanks to Maurice Greeson for donating this camera. He not only gave me the camera and Soligor 50mm lens, but included: Soligor 28mm f/2.8 lens, Soligor 105mm f/2.8 macro lens, Soligor 80-200 f/2.8 telephoto lens, macro lens reversal ring, chest-level viewfinder, original leather case, and manual. All of these items are in mint condition! I was worried at first because the camera doesn’t have a light meter, but that also eliminates the issue of having the correct battery type. I used my Gossen Luna-Pro to meter about half of the environments I was shooting in. The best way for me to describe using this camera can be done in one word: enjoyable. This camera feels so comfortable in my hands. It has a nice balance with the 50mm lens. I did try the wide 28mm on a few images I’ll share next week, but kept going back to the 50. Maybe it’s more my style, but I found it easier to compose my images. For the roughly short lifespan of the Miranda G, it’s a basic SLR and fun camera to use. Note, the self-timer is permanently stuck in the down position, but an issue this small wouldn’t stop me from using this camera. I really don’t have anything negative say about this camera. The viewfinder, and chest-level viewfinder, are bright and clear. The additional shutter release on the front of the camera seemed odd at first, but somehow the slow squeeze on the front makes more sense than a downward pressing motion.

Ogden High School - Ogden, Utah

In July, my wife and I took a group of Chinese exchange students on a tour of Ogden High School in Ogden, Utah. The school was built in 1937 as part of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” a Works Progress Administration project that cost tax payers 1.2 million dollars. It was the first million-dollar school built in the U.S. The design style of the school is Art Deco and matches other Ogden City landmarks like the Ogden City Municipal Building and Peery’s Egyptian Theater. All three historic buildings were designed by the architectural firm Hodgson & McClenahan. In 2006, Ogden City residents voted to fund a $95.3-million-dollar bond to repair, renovate, and update the school. The high school has been the backdrop for several movies and television shows. These images were shot with the Miranda G on Kodak Tri-X 400, metered with a Goseen Luna-Pro S.


Dr. B’s Minolta SR-T202

Last week while shopping at a local thrift store I found a large camera case full of various items. Of course the main piece that attracted me was the camera, but what were the other odd items? The inside of the case was grimy with black pieces of foam that had crumbled apart from age. I carefully inspected the camera and purchased it with the case and contents. Later that night, I removed the camera from the case and put it to the side. I knew cleaning out the case was going to be messy, so I put on a pair of latex gloves and started to slowly inspect each item. A 100mm Minolta Rokkor macro lens attached to a bellows on a rail that measures about 8 inches in length. There was also a Minolta pistol trigger grip with a shutter release cable. Odd shaped mirrors, wires and square plates that somehow attached to the bellows. What was all this equipment used for? Then I found a receipt. The camera was sold to Dr. Graydon Briggs in Salt Lake City. He purchased the camera on April 23, 1976 from Washington Scientific Camera Company. The description of the camera and contents are listed as: Complete Minolta SR-T202 Clinical Camera Unit, Clinical Camera Case, Dental Mirrors, Columbia wire retractor, Minolta F4 100mm lens, and Minolta 18LS Flash.

With a simple Google search, I found the original owner, Dr. Graydon Briggs, DDS, a successful Utah dentist that was known for thousands of root canals. He passed away on November 11, 2013 at the age of 66. The Minolta camera kit he purchased for $587 in 1976 was used in his dental practice. From the receipt, you can see that he made two payments for the complete unit. To put this price tag in perspective, in 1976 a loaf of bread was $.30, a gallon of milk was $1.42, gasoline was $.59 per gallon, a new car was $4,100, and the average price of a home was $43,000. In 1976, this clinical camera unit would have cost the 2015 equivalent of $6,600.

The handwritten note on the back of the receipt:

Dear Dr.

You made our day – yeh these turkeys can’t afford a phone but look at the bargains you get. We do not maintain a phone at the shop & warehouse as we are in & out so much – We do not operate a retail store – can give better bargains that way. If you find it necessary you may reach us at our home morning & evenings as a rule at (206) 863-7172 or call Mr. Cliff Freede (?) at the U of W Dental School who can relay messages or give all the answers on problems – his phone # 206-543-5953. We are no longer going to carry the #704 case – so I have sent you the #705 which is larger at the old price of $27.50 – it is now $34.00. We do have our new custom camera case at $38.00 but was hesitant in sending it. Enclosed is our new price sheets. Thank you for your order.

Sincerely H.E.K.

Minolta SR-T202 Clinical Camera Unit

The camera is mounted to the bellows at one end and the 100mm Rokkor lens at the other. A dentist would use their right-hand to focus by extending or retracting the bellows, and squeeze the shutter trigger with the left-hand. Based on the odd shape of the mirrors, they would be placed in the patient’s mouth so the camera could capture photos of those hard-to-reach areas. I haven’t included an image of the mirrors because they need to be sterilized or thrown away.

The Minolta SR-T202 was the top-of-the-line camera in the series. When it’s not attached to the bellows and used for macro photos of someone’s throbbing tooth, it has a sharp 50mm Rokkor f/1.7 lens. I plan to write a full camera review after testing it with some film next week. For this post I wanted to feature the unique use, history, and the original owner of this camera.
 

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